Hawaii Employment Law Decisions March 13, 2016 to March 19, 2016 – Jeffrey S. Harris

U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

District court appropriately granted summary judgment against retaliation claim, because former employee did not offer specific and substantial evidence employer's legitimate reason for her termination - insubordination - was pretext for retaliation. California law did not protect former employee's refusal to sign form stating internal company investigation was confidential. Cuevas v. Skywest Airlines, Inc., 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 4995 (9th Cir. March 18, 2016).

District court appropriately excluded incidents of alleged retaliation not like or reasonably related to allegations in employee's charge. Noose in inventory warehouse allegedly hung by supervisor but not racially motivated or directed at employee was isolated incident not severe or pervasive enough to alter the terms and conditions of employment and create racially hostile work environment. Henry v. Regents of the Univ. of Cal., 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 4907 (9th Cir. March 17, 2016).

District court appropriately granted summary judgment against disparate treatment discrimination claim, because former employee showed no more favorable treatment of similarly situated individuals. Instructor saying management expected employee to fail, supervisors knowing about his 2004 complaint, and two trainers evaluating him instead of one did not create genuine issue whether pattern of antagonism giving rise to inference complaint caused employer not to extend appointment in 2008. Sanders v. Foxx, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 4897 (9th Cir. March 17, 2016).

EEOC satisfied mediation obligation by (a) issuing reasonable cause determination detailing individual female correctional officer's allegations of discrimination, harassment and retaliation; (b) referring to class of female correctional officers subjected to discrimination, harassment and retaliation at the same or nearby location; (c) inviting employer to conciliate; and (d) participating in mediation. EEOC did not have to conciliate on behalf of every alleged class member, at least where they worked at same or nearby facilities. Alleged class members had to allege unlawful acts within three hundred days of when individual filed charge. Class members did not have to file new charge if their claims were encompassed in reasonable cause determination or like or reasonably related to allegations in the individual's charge. District court inappropriately granted summary judgment against individual sexual harassment claim, because employee's supervisor allegedly subjected her to physical and verbal conduct cumulatively sufficient to support a hostile work environment claim. State of Ariz. v. The Geo Grp. Inc., 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 4646 (9th Cir. March 14, 2016).

Note: We analyze cases to learn rules the courts will follow or disappoint us if they don't. Rules that the courts follow allow us to behave and provide explanations they accept. But competent advocates may limit the rules to the facts of the case where they are discussed, or expand rules by showing that differences in other cases are irrelevant.